UAE famous: In talks with 'The Truffleman' Massimo Vidoni
“Dubai is a place where dreams can come true, it’s open for everybody…”
UAE Famous is a What’s On column focusing on people out there making the scene. They’re out there around town, shaping the UAE into what it is, creating the culture, food and life around us. We asked them what’s good in the UAE. We asked them what’s bad in the UAE. We asked them to tell us more, more, more about their wonderful selves…
This month we catch up with ‘The Truffleman’, Massimo Vidoni.
Who are you, and what made you famous?
I am Massimo Vidoni aka ‘The Truffleman’. My truffles made me famous. I sell caviar and truffles to all the top restaurants in the UAE. Chef Reif Othman gave me the name when we met in Zuma 10 years ago. I decided to make an Instagram account called @trufflemandubai and everything grew from there.
How long have you been in the UAE?
I’ve been here for more than 10 years now. My wife was offered a job for an ad agency, and I was bored of Italy, so we packed two suitcases and moved here to start a new chapter. We’d heard a lot about Dubai and felt like it’s a place where dreams can come true. It’s open for everybody and it’s easy to start a business here.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
Instagram is my forte. I have more than 250k followers and that’s how I do business, so the first thing I do is check in with everyone on there. Next, I run to the office and check any new shipments. I’ll also see that all the day’s orders go out to the restaurants smoothly. In the afternoon, I do tastings with different chefs in my office, which is my favourite part of the day. I also like to go out two or three times a week to visit my clients and support their restaurants.
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
Everything from tasting the meals that the chefs make with my products, to seeing their reaction when we open a big caviar tin. It is not only about selling. Yes, of course, I am here to sell but the people I meet are all artists, all special. Chefs are super interesting to me, we have the same passion and love for food, and we are intransigent about quality standards.
What’s the most expensive truffle you ever sold?
In November 2018 I sold a giant white truffle, which weighed 1.006kg to Roberto’s in DIFC. It was the most expensive truffle ever sold in the UAE. It was a Tuber Magnatum Pico truffle – one of the rarest types in the world and has an approximate value of Dhs187,000.
What’s the most random dish you’ve added truffle to?
I add truffles to almost everything, but the most random dish is grilled cheese. Truffles are usually shaved extremely thinly over a variety of dishes, like pasta, pizza, risotto or shaved over eggs.
What’s been your biggest achievement so far?
To come to the UAE without knowing anyone, and in just 10 years to be known in the industry and to see my face on TV shows such as BBC’s Inside Dubai makes me super happy. But the biggest achievement for me is to see my truffles on the menus of the most iconic restaurants and being invited to eat there is fantastic, especially as, until recently, I couldn’t even afford to eat in these venues.
Do you think that Dubai will be your forever home?
Yes, I am very happy here. We bought our own home, and with the recent Golden Visa programme, I can now see Dubai as a place where I can retire as well. It’s a forever home at least from October to June each year.